South Cotabato’s “Minahang Bayan”, a Small-Scale Mining (SSM) program implemented by the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) was chosen to be included in the Top 38 among 153 entries in the Galing Pook Awards (GPA) during their semi-final round evaluation.
This was disclosed by Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, former DOH Secretary and GPA Evaluator, after the presentation of the program on July 15 at the Minahang Bayan Center located at T’boli Municipal Gymnasium.
Galvez Tan also confirmed that the 18 finalists or winners will be announced by the last week of August and with the awarding set on September 1 at Malacanang Palace.
He pointed out that the province’s SSM is unique and probably the first of its kind in the country, if not, in the whole Southeast Asia.
“We have small-scale mining in different areas in the country, particularly “Diwalwal,” Compostela Valley in Mindanao, but your Minahang Bayan concept is different and the first of its kind in the country,” Galvez Tan added.
The presentation was made by PEMO Officer-in-Charge Siegfred Flaviano and also attended by Governor Daisy Avance Fuentes.
“The Minahang Bayan Program aims to promote sustainable SSM by responding to current SSM issues and concerns, integrating convergence and good governance,” Flaviano stressed during the presentation.
Flaviano emphasized the issuance of a Miner’s Identification (ID) to all SSM workers, but not after undergoing series of seminars and trainings on basic first aid and safety, disaster risk reduction/climate change adaptation s, solid waste management and other relevant SSM trainings.
“Mercury-free mining in partnership with NGO Bantoxics is the latest series of SSM trainings that we have initiated,” Flaviano added.
Corporate social responsibility is also being advocated to all SSM stakeholders, Flaviano further added, “that’s why we involved them in tree-planting activities and other environment conservation and protection programs.”
Governor Fuentes likewise explained the province’s support to SSM through good governance such as the formation of a Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) composed of the province, DENR-MGB 12, NGO partner and representatives of SSM stakeholders.
“We have an active PMRB that tackles the different issues and concerns of the SSM industry on a regular basis,” Fuentes disclosed.
The Governor also pointed out that provincial officials are not directly involved in mining, “and as such, we can fully implement existing SSM ordinances, policies and regulations to SSM stakeholders”.
Galvez-Tan also noted the same and further stressed “that we notice the presence not only of sustainability, but also of political will in the implementation of your SSM program.”
Aside from the Minahang Bayan, the province’s HealthPlus program is also included among the Top 38 semi-finalists.
GPAs staff Monet Montemayor and Genevieve Gabion, NGO Bantay Kita Beverly Besmanos and Jay Apiag and Bantoxics Jumbea Lucino also attended the presentation.